New timeline for Hard Rock demoliton worries business owners

Updated: Jan. 19, 2020 at 10:58 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - More unease from French Quarter business owners just days after the City announced its plan to implode the Hard Rock collapse site. But the timing may affect some more than others like service industry workers who rely on the city’s destination weddings.

Shannon Helfrich showed us the event space she calls a passion project.

“This has been awesome because it’s been my own small business but someone else was paying the bills. The ownership has been amazing.”

Part of the New Orleans Athletic Club, Helfrich moved here to work on this property.

“I click through the link and I was like, I am in love with this place. It’s the coolest.”

By October 2018, she’s spent two years working with the owner to renovate and transform the historic property into a charming and profitable venue. But a year later, on October 12, the collapse put Helfrich’s business at a standstill and she says things have been on the decline ever since.

“It was picking up the pace to be even better that next year, as is should, hopefully, and then we had the collapse,” says Helfrich. “We’re right at about $50K in refunds.”

She says accessibility issues, a rerouted sewerage line and the site itself are deterrents for would-be brides.

“That’s not the worst part. It’s just not knowing when it’s gonna get better,” says Helfrich. “I have a full wedding calendar in March. I’m very uncertain about what we’re going to do about all those folks.”

March is Helfrich’s second busiest month for weddings. She says she’s already received calls from brides who’ve heard about the City’s plan to implode the site in March.

But Helfrich doesn’t know what to tell them.

“It’s watching all of the brides and their families on the day of their wedding trying to figure out what they’re going to do. Those things are really hard.”

Demolition company D.H. Griffin says the plan to implode the Hard Rock Collapse site in mid to late March with a two to three month clean up period.

“They’re going to say March and then it’s going to end up June.”

But nearby business owner Diane Thomas-Weder worries what impact the implosion itself, which will require evacuations will have on the area.

“I can’t imagine what that’s going to do to all of our business around here,” says Weder.

Though frustrated, when reminded of those lives lost in the collapse, Helfrich says everything falls into perspective.

“I feel so sorry for those families who haven’t had their loved one come back, yet so that is mine it’s just my business. It’s not my life.”

The city says the implosion cuts down the previous timeline for the structure’s demolition. It’s also safer.

Mayor Latoya Cantrell says once the implosion takes place, a lot of accessibility and traffic issues will be resolved.

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